Feed of

The temperature was steadily dropping into the fifties…forties and all I had on was a sweatshirt and a knitted hat. It was pretty early in the morning, and I was sure I had no idea where I was going. All I knew to look for was a castle with a little flag perched atop it; not too hard to look for, right? I zigged and zagged along the crossroads covering the park, and I finally caught a glimpse of it. Across the great lawn I spotted a pristine cream-colored castle in the middle of the busy park. It was almost strange to me to see something so beautiful, mysterious, and alluring surrounded by dog poop and screaming children. Almost walking into a pond, I finally found the path that looped around Shakespeare Garden and straight to the base of Belvedere Castle.

This wasn’t my first time visiting this magnificent structure. My senior year Creative Writing class stopped at Belvedere along our Literature Walk, and I was just as fascinated by it then as I am now. The beautifully crafted balconies and weathered stone exterior look like they came straight out of a fairy tale. The day I visited with Zoe, we walked into a middle of a photo shoot for a gothic magazine. The entire crew managed to walk up the narrow one-person staircase to the balconies. One of the models stood near the edge of the turret, looking out dreamily over the rest of the park, much to the joy of the photographer below. She was a fairy tale princess come to life, only wearing much more black. The Gothic inspired style really gives Belvedere Castle a dreamy feel that draws thousands of people to the structure every year.

After looking at the surrounding structures and reactions of the tourists, and doing some research, I began to understand what the castle was doing in the middle of a public park. Olmstead, Vaux, and Mould wanted to design a place where people of all classes, races, and ages could relax and enjoy rural beauty in the middle of the urban jungle. Central Park encompasses so many different styles of landscape architecture, and I believe that the contrast of Belvedere Castle against the Great Lawn and urban backdrop is one of the best examples. It serves as an escape from the hectic city only a few blocks away, and every time I have visited afterward, I take no shame in climbing up the stairs to the balcony and imagining myself as a princess locked away by a fire breathing dragon, or college professors.

-Laura Ayala

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